On November 22, 2022, Ball State University Teachers College alumna Angela Fowler got a surprise of a lifetime, when she was honored with the prestigious Milken Educator Award!
Milken Educator Awards Senior Vice President Dr. Jane Foley and Indiana Secretary of Education Dr. Katie Jenner presented Fowler with the prestigious recognition, which includes an unrestricted $25,000 cash prize. She will join the 2022 class of up to 40 elementary educators nationwide to be recognized by the Milken Family Foundation this school year.
Fowler, who earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a concentration in mathematics in 2015, spoke to us about her time at Ball State, and her career.
Time at Ball State
What made you pursue a career in education?
I come from a family of teachers and have had many phenomenal educators throughout my lifetime. I wanted to impact lives the way my life was impacted by the many teachers who not only were there to help me learn and grow in the classroom, but were there because they cared about me and were invested in helping me become a good person and productive citizen in the community.
What made you choose Ball State?
Ball State University has always been known for their education program, so naturally I wanted to go to a school that would best prepare me for the profession. I also have a sister, Jennifer McBride (Fowler), who has always been a role model of mine. She chose Ball State University and after being on campus to visit with her, I knew that Ball State would be a great fit for me too.
Do you have a favorite part of your time at Ball State? What do you look back on and remember fondly?
I am very proud to say that I was a part of the Ball State University Dance Marathon Program during my time at Ball State. Being a part of that organization and on the executive committee for three of my years at Ball State helped me develop many skills that I now utilize in the classroom and for events at my school too!
Is there anything else you would like to add about your time at Ball State? Any fun projects you worked on? Favorite class/professor/experience?
During my time at Ball State University, I was extremely blessed to be chosen to be a part of the Schools Within the Context of Community Program based in the Whitely Community. Having that immersive experience truly opened my eyes for what was to come preparing for a class of my own. Learning to understand, embrace, and love the community that your students are growing up in makes a world of a difference when trying to teach them. Many community members and professors made a huge difference in my life with this program. Many thanks to Eva Zygmunt, Susan Tancock, Wilfridah Mucherah, and Whitely Community Members, Wilisha Scaife and Mary & Cornelius Dollison.
Some of the other professors that stand out during my educational experience in the teachers college were Tony Kline and Donna Williams! I cannot thank them enough for making a positive impact on me!
What advice would you give to someone just starting out at Ball State?
I think the best advice would be to get involved in the university in as many ways as possible. There is so much to do at Ball State and each experience you obtain will give you a new perspective that you will take with you after graduation. Your time at Ball State will pass by in the blink of an eye, so soak up as many experiences as possible, gain as many skills as you can, form positive relationships that will last beyond your college years, and develop yourself as much as you can as a person so that you can make a positive impact walking out into the world.
After Ball State
Can you tell us a little about your career?
I am currently in my 8th year of teaching. I teach at Grassy Creek Elementary School in Greenwood, IN. Over the course of my career, I have developed a strong interest in mathematics instruction. Teaching mathematics through conceptual strategies has become my passion and I intend to continue diving deeper into this content with the rest of my career.
During the school year I help put on “Riley Week,” which is a week where we raise funds for Riley Hospital for Children while having spirit days and a school-wide Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament. I am also a coach for an after school program that we put on at school, Girls on the Run. Through this program, I help girls grow in many important life skills through lessons and physical activity.
Current position: 4th Grade Math General Education Teacher
What is your favorite part of working in education?
My favorite part of working in education is the relationships I have with my students and colleagues. Working with students every day to help them grow and learn in as many ways as possible is my mission every day. Getting to be such a big part of their lives for a year is extremely rewarding, but also a huge responsibility. Being able to support these students every day is only possible alongside other amazing colleagues. It truly takes a village to help raise and teach students every day and building relationships with my colleagues along the way is incredibly important. At the end of the day, it is the relationships and connections that make this job so special.
Were you surprised when you won the Milken Educator Award?
I was beyond surprised that I won the Milken Educator Award this year. I was sitting in an assembly that I truly thought was being put on because of our corporation’s hard work with reading and I don’t even teach reading! When I realized that something else was actually happening, I still thought of many of the amazing reading teachers at my school. I never dreamed that I would experience such a special day and be recognized in such a huge way for my work in this profession.
Do you have any words of wisdom for teachers just starting out? How do you continue to stay motivated and passionate?
If I could say anything to teachers just starting their careers, I would let them know that they are stepping into one of the most important careers and that the work they do every day in the classroom TRULY matters. I would tell them to immerse themselves into the school community and to not be afraid to become a positive force in education! Find colleagues to connect and collaborate with because it truly takes a village to raise students and help them learn and grow. You can’t do it all on your own! The job will come with many challenges, but it is those challenges that will make you learn and grow as well.
To stay motivated and passionate, keep your personal “why” behind your decision to enter education at the front of your mindset as much as possible. Surround yourself with positive and inspirational forces that will help you keep motivated and make you want to better yourself and your instruction.
Do you have any hobbies, or favorite things you do to relax that you would like to share with us?
During my first four years of teaching I coached soccer at the youth and high school level. Also whenever time allows, I like to decorate cookies for different events!
Fun fact about yourself:
I have a goal of visiting all of the National Parks in the United States in my lifetime!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
One of my elementary principals, Joe Hansen, always kept the following quote at the front of our minds: “To those whom much is given, much is expected.” I know that I always expect 100% out of myself in everything I do because I have been blessed with so much in my life. My parents, my sister and her family, my former teachers, and my community were all such a vital part of the village that raised me. I credit who I am to those who helped raise me and I feel the calling to be a part of that village for the students in my school.